Action-Hub.Com – Activists United
Interviewer and Writer – Michael Campbell – Supernerdland.com
(Update 04/29/2016 — Action-Hub.com is no longer active, and the site is down.)
(Disclosure: The interviewer is acquaintances with the interviewees. SuperNerdLand has no connection to the creation and maintenance of Action-Hub. One person has requested me to keep them anonymous, one person has requested me to use their handle, and the other wishes to use their website handle.)
Activism. That word has many different meanings to many different people. No matter what it means to you, one needs tools and a space to organize. Join SuperNerdLand as we interview the team behind Action-Hub.com, a site that wishes to accommodate activists of every stripe. By providing users with the tools to create their own communities while staying interconnected socially, they hope to help streamline modern activism. Expect bugs, changes, & more news as the site develops.
Note: This interview is about as informal as one can get. Expect raw language not suitable for younger readers. IRC Logs were edited for readability & to keep answers/context together.
SuperNerdLand: [How would you] describe yourself in relation to Action Hub?
HOC: I was a hardcore chanologist who is now involved in grassroots movements. I was asked by Anon to help with a few matters as I helped out on a number of other popular activism sites.
CTP: I’m American, big on getting money out of politics and keeping basic constitutional rights intact. I’m the Moderator of the site (aka the forum cop). I myself have moderated 2 other sites before this, to be unnamed.
ANON: I’ve been involved in IRL activism since the 90’s in various forms, to me freedom of speech and information is the most vital value in any democracy. Online I’ve been involved with Chanology since 2008, I participated heavily during the Iran crisis in 2009 as well. Professionally, I have 5 years experience in community management which can be an asset. I speak French and English fluently and my main goal with action hub is to provide a safe space for everyone to express their opinion and organize, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.
SuperNerdLand: Alright. What would each of you say is the purpose of Action-Hub?
CTP: A hub/center piece for all activism.
ANON: The main purpose is to provide a safe haven for groups of activists that need a space to organize and discuss without fear of censorship or being banned, the only scenario in which someone could be banned is for illegal activity. In the long run I would like to implement tools to facilitate the task for groups to organize and manage themselves.
I dream of being a janitor that does not interfere with whatever shenanigans you are planning
An extreme example: if the KKK lost their website and needed a space to organize, as long as they don’t plan anything illegal I would let them use the site.
SuperNerdLand: So you see this becoming a neutral ground for any sorts of activism then?
ANON: Yes. You put it in fewer words than I and so eloquently. lol
SuperNerdLand: Are there any assurances that user IDs, and data are going to be kept anonymous? Aside from what they willingly let known, of course. You can’t protect someone who will not protect themselves, after all.
ANON: We do our very best to keep all user data private, we use Cloudflare and SSL; only the admins have access to IP logs for security purpose. But we will never share those unless it’s requested by law enforcement and it’s a legitimate request.
CTP: We will do whatever we can to protect user information, except go to jail to protect some dumbass who got in legit legal trouble.
HOC: We will also be having the site routinely pentested* by a few notable people/groups in the security industry who wish to help.
SuperNerdLand: How much do users have to do to stay anonymous on action-hub?
ANON: I don’t pretend to be an expert at security, but I took every measure I am aware of to make sure that as soon as a[t] user signup, none of the info they do not want to share is made public. And as HOC pointed out, there are members of the chaos computer club in Germany, who agreed to pentest* the site for us for free
CTP: You may use your real name it’s up to the user. Being anonymous is not a requirement
ANON: Users may sign-up with their social media accounts if they wish. But then its on them [to stay anonymous.]
SuperNerdLand: Alright. So of the data received by users, what do you keep?
ANON: We only keep IP logs for security purposes and only me & HOC have access to those. Not even CTP 😛 No Google analytics, no tracking of any kind.
HOC: Email addresses are also stored by the forum software but we encourage people to set up throwaway accounts
ANON: Oh yes, that too.
HOC: Mailinator etc are accepted.
SuperNerdLand: So then IPs are kept with users then?
SuperNerdLand: Regarding the ToS; Under what nation does this site fall under, the laws that hang over it? That is to say, where is it hosted, and why?
ANON: Canada, because I live here.
CTP: But users doing illegal activity, if caught, will be under their countries laws.
ANON: Well that depends. I’m not forced to provide information to foreign countries unless its mandated by Canadian law. I won’t hesitate to tell lawyers to go fuck themselves if I legally can.
CTP: No I’m just saying Americans can’t do illegal stuff that’s legal in Canada and think they can get away with it
ANON: I’m just not gonna risk my own ass to keep users out of trouble. They have to have some level of responsibility for their own actions. I call this the “I’m not your mom clause.” 😛
SuperNerdLand: Alright, as for intended use: Do you view this as just a site for organizing and communicating sensitive or operation type of stuff? Or would you terribly mind it if started being used as a sort of pro-free speech social network, as well as its intended purpose?
ANON: I think it can be both. I want to give users as much freedom as possible to organize themselves and make of it whatever they want. As long as its activism/free-speech related.
CTP: How I like to describe it is as a port for ships. But instead of ships, it’s activism communities.
ANON: The model we are aiming for, is that users will be able to create and moderate their own sub groups, private or public.
CTP: Instead of having to make your own website we have all the tools to run your own community.
ANON: Well, at least we will eventually have more tools. For now we have a feature similar to Google Docs, and private or public groups that can be moderated by the users who create them. But there is more to com[e]. And obviously, the social media stream, old school forums..
CTP: This won’t be a place for trolls to come in and harass other users either. We will keep the users safe from threats and harassment
ANON: Yeah. I can’t afford to get in trouble because of a user’s actions. We are doing this out of pocket and out of good will. But as I said, I’ll do everything I legally can to protect my users, while keeping my ass safe. This includes users I hate, lol.
SuperNerdLand: So, with all this in mind, where do you think the userbase will come from?
CTP: On top of political activism we are going to use the site to help organize for donated related organizations
SuperNerdLand: Ah, charity as well?
CTP: Like Extra Life. I hope to create a huge team for that.
ANON: Now, that is a great question, we have been so busy working on infrastructure that we haven’t planned outreach yet. I guess this interview is the first step.
HOC: Organizing charity gaming sessions as a group and social media. Also [with] related forums [whom] we are still in touch.
SuperNerdLand: Alright. Outreach is still being planned then, aside from this?
SuperNerdLand: Where do you each see this site going in five years? Do you see interest panning the site out that long?
CTP: On my end in 5 years, god willing, the site is mostly community run with very little staff interference.
ANON: ^ pretty much. I would like to keep things running smoothly, participate in my own projects. But for the most part I would like to see groups organize and run themselves.
CTP: We will not push our own agendas.
ANON: I want to be the repairman, not the community leader, neutral is the keyword.
HOC: Yeah, seeing groups run by themselves and only intervening if absolutely necessary. Communities should be given the freedom to plan without someone breathing over their shoulders.
CTP: I want to develop a mod staff I can trust then hand over the keys and work my own projects.
SuperNerdLand: Just as hands off as Hotwheelz has been regarding 8chan?
ANON: Minus the child pornography yes. 😛
HOC: Yeah, a very hands off approach. From my experience site owners (if they are too involved in the community) cause drama with portions of the user-base on the site. I want to be able to give them room.
ANON: If anything, the way I see our role, is to respond to the needs and request of the users.
CTP: Just to note we hope to attract “real people” not just anons if that makes sense.
SuperNerdLand: To these future users of the website, not just anon, but charity organizations, non-radical extremists, free speech advocates, et al.. What would be your first messages to these folk?
ANON: If you lack computer skills and you would like to have tools that fit your needs to organize and build an activism group online, we offer you a space and we will listen to your requests and try to accomodate you the best we can. We will handle the nerd shit so you can focus on what matters.
HOC: Please respect the other communities and we will do all we can to accommodate you, would be mine.
CTP: Don’t just bang drums on facebook. Use our site to make the change you want to see
SNL: Alright. With that, I think that concludes this interview.
We want to thank the folks from Action-Hub for this interview. If you have any questions or want to check out more of what Action-Hub has to offer then head on over to their site.
* Pentest/Pentested: The act of having a site being broken into to determine if & where there are any common or uncommon security problems that need to be fixed.
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